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Project plan

Purpose:

The Project Plan provides a statement of how and when a project's objectives are to be achieved, by showing the major products, milestones, activities and resources required on the project.

It is used as a baseline against which to monitor project progress and cost stage by stage.

It provides the business case with planned project costs and it identifies the management stages and other major control points.

In construction projects the Project Execution Plan is equivalent to the project initiation document plus the updated Project Plan.

Fitness for purpose checklist:

  • Is the plan achievable?
  • Does it support the rest of the Project Initiation Document? 

Suggested contents:

The plan should contain the following:

  • Plan description, giving a brief description of what the plan covers
  • Project prerequisites, containing any fundamental aspects that must be in place at the start of the project and any that must remain in place for the project to succeed
  • External dependencies, identifying the products that must be provided to the project so that it can continue but which the Project Management Team has no authority over and so cannot ensure delivery fits the project requirements.
  • Planning assumptions concerning availability of resources, skills/competency requirements etc
  • Project plan, covering:
  • Project level Gantt chart or bar chart with identified management stages, e.g. milestones and control points
  • Project level product breakdown structure
  • Product descriptions, defining what the project will deliver including the required quality level
  • Project level activity network and product dependencies
  • Project level table of resource requirement
  • Requested/assigned specific resources
  • Project change budget (if appropriate)
  • Project level tolerance, for both time and budget as triggers for contingency plans and escalation processes
  • Contingency plans, explaining how it is intended to deal with the consequences of any risks that materialise

Source information:

  • Information provided in Lessons Learned Reports of other projects
  • Project Brief 

Notes:

  • The Project Plan forms part of the Project Initiation Document and will be refined as the project moves on. The Project Plan will initially be a high level plan that provides more detail for the first stage of a project than for later ones. More detailed plans for following stages will be produced near the end of the previous stage.
  • The project plan is produced by the project manager or the project sponsor if there is one.  

Further information:

See the briefing on Project management; see also document outlines for project brief and project initiation document; in addition, for construction projects see project execution plan.

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2

Achieving Excellence Guides 3 and 4 on Project procurement lifecycle and Risk and value management